20 Jul 2023

Caring for the carers

Human factors can help deliver better outcomes for patients by nurturing the healthcare workforce, a leading surgeon has argued. Professor Scarlett McNally, deputy director of the Centre for Perioperative Care and president of the Medical Women’s Foundation, highlighted the difference it can make in creating better working environments and improving mental health.

She called for improvements in teamworking and behaviour to help all staff feel included, arguing this will lead to benefits for patients as well as increased staff retention. And writing in the BMJ, she highlighted three areas where work could be focused, including minimum behaviour standards, identifying where focus is needed and creating effective teams.

Professor McNally, an orthopaedic surgeon, said: “The minimum standard should be an expectation of ‘respect’ at all times. Ordinary interactions should be improved, rather than concentrating on reporting and sanctions only for the most unacceptable behaviours. The paradox of the several investigations I’ve helped with is that the investigative process can worsen workplace culture; the confidential, stressful and adversarial nature of the process often doesn’t allow learning to occur.”

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